Believe it Or Not, Some People Will Benefit from Lower Award Prices from United MileagePlus

Oddly enough, with United’s big devaluation that goes into effect February 1, there are actually some awards that are getting cheaper.

Did you know that even the price of some first class partner awards have gone down?

After the devaluation announcement, after looking at the increases that United is pushing through (including of its standard award chart), I compared United’s new award chart to American’s and Delta’s.

These comparisons were of awards to and from North America, though. Flyers in some other parts of the world, traveling to some destinations, will actually see decreases.

Most of my readers are based in North America, so lot of good that does you, right? Well, sometimes putting together complicated award trips all over the world you might find yourself needing a one-way award flight between Central Asia and Europe and will be pleased to see business class (and coach) get less expensive. Or perhaps you live in Hawaii and want to visit Australia, you’ll like that business class got cheaper for that too.

So I scanned the award chart and thought I’d share some of the things that will be going down in price for bookings made February 1 onward:

  • Flights between Central/Southern Africa and Northern Africa go from 45,000 roundtrip in economy to 35,000

  • Awards between Africa and Southern South America have a new, lower price if you take direct flights. Instead of 120,000, 175,000 and 215,000 for economy, business, and first class prices go to 60,000, 90,000, and 140,000.

  • Flights between the Middle East and Central/Southern Africa go from 70,000 roundtrip in coach.

  • Flights between Central Asia and Europe go from 60,000 roundtrip in coach to 50,000 and from 100,000 roundtrip in business to 90,000.

  • Flights between Central Asia and Northern Africa go from 70,000 roundtrip in coach to 60,000.

  • Flights between Central Asia and Central/Southern Africa go from 80,000 roundtrip in coach to 60,000 and from 120,000 roundtrip in business class to 110,000.

  • Business class between Hawaii and Australia/New Zealand goes from 125,000 to 120,000 roundtrip.

  • Coach between Mexico and Oceania goes from 80,000 roundtrip to 75,000.
  • Coach between Caribbean and Oceania goes from 90,000 roundtrip to 75,000.
  • Coach between Northern Africa and Oceania goes from 100,000 roundtrip to 90000.
  • Coach between Central/Southern Africa and Oceania goes from 100,000 roundtrip to 90000.
  • Coach between Middle East and South Asia goes from 75,000 roundtrip to 70,000.
  • Flights between the Middle East and Japan go from 90,000 roundtrip in coach to 70,000, and from 135,000 roundtrip in business class to 130,000.
  • Coach between Middle East and Oceania goes from 80,000 roundtrip to 70,000.
  • Coach between Middle East and Australia/New Zealand goes from 90,000 roundtrip to 70,000.
  • Coach between North Asia and Oceania goes from 40,000 roundtrip to 30,000.
  • Flights between North Asia and Australia/New Zealand go from 70,000 roundtrip to 40,000 for coach, from 100,000 roundtrip to 80,000 for business, and 130,000 roundtrip to 100,000 for first class.
  • Coach between Japan and Australia go from 50,000 roundtrip to 45,000.

I count a total of (25) reductions in price. That’s far outweighed by the increases, of course, but still noteworthy given how much attention I’ve paid to the negatives.

Overall the biggest drops in price are in the Middle East, Oceania, Africa, and Central Asia. They’re mostly for coach awards, but some business class awards drop too.

The single most improved region pair has to be North Asia – Australia.

    You’ll be able to book Beijing – Bangkok – Sydney and back on Thai Airways in first class for 100,000 miles — 30,000 miles less than under the current award chart.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Basically where there are no significant awards redeemed, the prices came down. Most UA flyers are in the US and their costs go up to go outside the US. If you have lots of miles, that has to be from CC, so make it more expensive as you must have money to burn.

  2. are you quoting those numbers in UA metals or partners? however the more popular region such as SE Asia is by far the worst and flying partner Business and First dont make sense anymore.

  3. Thanks for highlighting. North American coach awards also remain excellent value in many cases: up to 4 cpm value for less-traveled nonstops like SFO-STL or SFO-SAT that often command $500 OW, where you may really value the time savings over connections for a weekend trip.

  4. I have a question about this. Say I book a flight today, then need to make a change after feb 1, but the new award chart is actually lower. Will I be refunded the miles?

  5. As one of the few Mileage Plus members who exclusively redeems to/from Central/South Africa, Middle East and Central Asia regions, I am actually very pleased with most of these changes! Thanks for covering some of these hidden gems.

  6. @Troy – yes! This is a big win for my family in Singapore & Australia; SQ business class SIN-BNE-SIN (v.v) 60k miles + $120 taxes.

  7. Gary,

    I travel to the Caribbean often, and I see no mention of the significant decrease in cost flying on UA or partners between Mexico, Caribbean, Central America and South America. Can you perhaps elaborate on that one? Also, I have quite a few UA miles but rarely fly them, and after playing with their search engine I’m unclear as to how useful this might be – any thoughts on how to take advantage flying on UA, US, or perhaps Cape Air, and do most of these kind of itineraries require a phone call?

  8. The best bargain going must be the Alliance award Tel Aviv to Male [Maldives] to spend some hotel points. Go in Economy for 20,000 miles each way and $33.62 or splash out for Business at only 35,000 each way and the same $33.62. Great scheduling via Istanbul!

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